So I Won an Award, and am Going to an Academy

I don’t blog to gain millions of followers or to make money (although that’d be nice…). I write because  I have something to say, and think that this is the best medium for that. So imagine my surprise when I won a YALSA writing award for something I wrote for the YALSA blog in February, 2013.

The article, titled Serving Homeless Teens: other ways to help was true third in a series, with the first two authored by Kelly Czarnecki (Technology Education Librarian at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library), and Marie Harris (Teen Services Specialist, ImaginOn-Charlotte Mecklenburg Library). The YALSA blog editor sent out an email asking which YALSA bloggers had experience in serving homeless youth in libraries. The three of us responded, and coordinated topics so we weren’t writing about the same service or situation. Each of the blog posts are distinctly unique to serving homeless youth, which I think proves the complexity of serving that demographic. Each homeless teen has a different story, different dreams, and different needs – but they all need and deserve service from librarians who have ways to help.

Check out the blog posts – linked above – to read about our experiences and our ideas.

A big thank you to YALSA for recognizing my (and our) work. It validates the hard work we put into not only writing, but serving.


A second shocking piece of news came across my desk this month – but this one I had been hoping for. I was accepted into the 2014 class of the Virginia Library Leadership Academy – sponsored by the Virginia Library Association. The Academy begins in May with a 2-day workshop in Staunton, Virginia where I (and the other 23 attendees) will receive project management training. I will then meet with my Academy mentor, who will work closely with me for the next year. Over that year’s time, I will plan and implement a program that utilizes the skills I learned at the workshop.

I am honored to be a part of the 2014 VALLA class, and cannot wait to discuss my experiences on this here blog.


A reading challenge? I ACCEPT!

The Hub is hosting a reading challenge called “2012 Best of the Best Reading Challenge”. In order to be eligible to win the cool prize pack, I have to read 25 of the 80 award- and honor-winning titles from the 2012 book awards season. These include the Alex, Printz, William C. Morris, Amazing Audiobooks, etc. Seeing as how I am already challenging myself to read all Alex and Printz winners and honors by June 20th (ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA!!), this shouldn’t be too difficult.

Follow my progress by clicking on my tag “2012 best of the best reading challenge”. I will tag every appropriate review that with tag.

Happy reading!

Making Stuff!!

So one of the reasons I love this job is that I finally have a reason to be creative. This week I have done a ton and am pleased to share it with you all.

1. Made Teens Top Ten bookmarks. Usually YALSA has a bookmark to promote the titles, but it’s not out yet. So instead, I made my own! Feel free to steal it for your own use.

2. I follow Taylor Swift on Twitter and the other day she thanked her fans for getting her so many Teen Choice Awards nominations. That got me thinking…we should have our own Teen Choice Awards and compare our results to the Nickelodeon ones! And that is exactly what I was approved to do. I made ballots with 24 of the categories (there are over 50 in the real TCA!) and one of my teens decorated the ballot box. After the awards are announced I will make a poster comparing our results to the ‘real’ ones. So far I have had a lot of positive feedback from the teens, so I’m exited about this.

3. I also made…a duct tape tie!! Every Tuesday is Try-It Tuesday at the Teen Center and this week it was duct tape crafts! I thought a purple and yellow tie would be a nice addition to my already quite purple-y wardrobe (and a nice homage to Harry Potter, this being such a bittersweet week for fans of the boy wizard).

4. Lastly, and I think most importantly, I made a Facebook page for the Teen Center. After a few teens tried to ‘Friend’ me on Facebook, I knew I had to be able to connect with them virtually, but without exposing my personal life to them (and vice versa). Ergo, I made a Facebook page. The library system’s director has ‘Liked’ us, as have the Head of Outreach, and my boss, then Teen Services Manager. I printed out ‘Facebook business cards’ that have the Facebook logo and the link to our page and am passing it out to teens and parents as I interact with them.

I hope to have 50 ‘Likes’ by the end of the summer. Is that too ambitious?

7 books, 2 tshirts, and one job offer @ ALA

Today was a great day at ALA Annual. My first program was the first of many Auditorium Speaker Series, this one with Nancy Pearl (renowned Reader’s Advisory guru) interviewing Mary McDonagh Murphy whose documentary of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is being released just in time for the 50th anniversary of the masterpiece’s first publishing. Interspersed with the interview were snippets from the documentary which include scenes from the movie and readings by famous authors. I am not the biggest TKAM fan, in fact, I think I read it too young to really appreciate it (thanks, public school!). But the hour was very enjoyable.

After that I had over an hour to kill so I decided to get a start on the 1,500 booths in the exhibit hall. In that time I picked up the following: 7 books, 2 tote bags, a t-shirt, a notebook, a bookmark, a window cling, and a pen. I’ve included pictures for your enjoyment.

The bumper sticker I paid for. And I can’t wait to stick it right on my car. Really label myself 🙂

One of the tote bags is from a co. called Lapham’s Quarterly. I especially loved this exhibit, because of my love of history (Thanks, SMCM for the undergrad degree!) It’s a scholarly journal chock full of primary sources. The edition I chose was Sports & Games. The poetry, photographs, drawings and essays and just fabulous. I can’t wait to tell a former professor about this.

The galleys (pre-published books meant for editors, reviewers and proofreaders) I picked up are:
Frozen Secrets, Antarctica Revealed by Sally M. Walker
Don’t You Believe It: exposing myths behind 250 commonly believed fallacies by Herb Reich
Packing for Mars: the curious science of life in the void by Mary Roach
Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens signed especially for me by author and chef Jennifer Schaertl
All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang
Generation Change: 150 ways we can change ourselves, our country, and our world by Jayan Kalathil and Melissa Bolton-Klinger

Next I went to my second program on E-Government Services, led by members of the ALA’s E-Government Services Subcommittee. You may be asking yourself “what is e-gov’t?” Let me explain. Over the past few years to cut costs many federal and state governments closed social service offices (food stamps, welfare, disability, etc.) and put everything online instead. After these closures, people came in waves to public libraries. Why? Because public libraries have free internet access and knowledgeable reference librarians. So e-gov’t is more than a library service. It’s a new way of life. All public librarians, regardless of their title, need to be trained on assisting customers on how to properly fill out these very important forms and documents. To learn more about UMD’s new iSchool concentration on e-gov’t, please visit their website.

Next was a fabulous program titled Finding the Balance: Kids’ Rights, Parental Demands and Librarian’s Role. Led by four members of the Intellectual Freedom Committee we were given information to support our stance on children and teen privacy. For example, parents may come to the library wanting to know what their child has checked out b/c it may not be appropriate. Or a police officer asks a school librarian for the check-out history of a particular student. And according to the ALA Code of Ethics, that would be infringing on the privacy rights of our customers. I would love to have a conversation on this with someone, perhaps I will in my Summer Session II course at UMD: Children’s Services.

After another round of exhibits, I went to Casting the E-book Hook: we can’t let this one get away. The speaker was Doug Uhlmann, a 6-12 librarian at a charter school in Philadelphia, who gave us pros and cons about using e-book readers in our libraries, whether academic or public. Some of the cons include fragility, cost, and the time librarians would have to put in to re-setting admin/mgmt settings before every check-out. The pros include the lack of distract-ability (like with iPads), the “pay-per-view” option that replaces the need to purchase a book that is guaranteed to be used only once.

So my absolute favorite part of the day was hearing the cheers of my fellow ALA-ers who were watching the USA v. Ghana game from the TVs in the main atrium. Here is a pic of the fun they were all having:

Tune in tomorrow night for a wrap-up of my third day of ALA!!

ALA Day 1

Today was day 1 of ALA. Well, technically it was day 2, but day one for me so that’s the chronology I’m using. My first event was YALSA 101, a “get to know the Young Adult Library Services Association” hour-long event which went much like speed dating. But instead of getting a new partner every few minutes, we moved to a new table to learn something new about YALSA. I learned about the blog/website presence, YA Lit Symposium in Albuquerque in Nov., and webinars. Then I made a few new friends at the YALSA Happy Hour, two from Howard County (MD) and one from OHIO!!

All in all, a great start to the event.